Alcohol abuse is a widespread problem throughout the world today. As a substance that is legal for many people, the consumption of alcohol is not always viewed as being problematic. When the use of alcohol becomes excessive and begins causing disturbances to arise in an individual’s life, however, an alcohol use disorder may have developed. When a woman is simultaneously struggling with alcohol abuse and an eating disorder, the combination of these two conditions can lead to a grave outcome.
At Montecatini, we know the extraordinary courage it takes to address the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of living with an eating disorder and co-occurring alcohol use disorder. We also know how vital it is to feel safe and supported. That is why, in a serene and intimate environment, each client’s treatment plan is customized to address her unique challenges, her unique family dynamics and history, her unique dreams for the future, and more. Our approach is collaborative and highly personalized, born out of true empathy and compassion.
We believe that no matter how long one has suffered from an eating disorder and co-occurring addiction to alcohol, healing and lasting freedom from such conditions are possible. Our mission is to support you every step of the way.
Helping a Loved One or Family Member Get Treatment
If you have a family member or loved one who is battling an eating disorder and a compulsion to consume alcohol on a frequent basis, you may be questioning what, if anything, you can do to help her. It can be angering to watch your loved one continue to engage in activities that are so harmful to her health and wellbeing, but it can also be scary. The following are a few steps that you can take to assist your loved one in recognizing her need for treatment:
- First, become educated on eating disorders and co-occurring alcohol use disorder. Learn how each disease can impact the other and the effects that they can have on your loved one’s health. Obtaining this knowledge can allow your interactions with your loved one to be more constructive. Having this knowledge can also help you gain an understanding of what your loved one is dealing with on a daily basis, providing you with a sense of empathy that can relieve some of the anger and frustration you may be feeling.
- Research various rehab centers that are equipped to successfully treat individuals who are battling these specific co-occurring concerns. Receiving treatment for one condition and not the other will prevent true healing from being achieved. Both the eating disorder and the addiction to alcohol must be addressed and treated.
- Present your loved one with your concerns, sharing all of the information that you have gathered. Keep in mind that you may initially be met with denial, resistance, or even anger as your loved one struggles to come to terms with the fact that she has a problem. Remain calm, patient, and nonjudgmental. Do not allow the conversation to become an argument. Encourage your loved one, but refrain from making demands or setting ultimatums.
- If your loved one agrees to seek treatment, show your support by assisting her in scheduling appointments, accompanying her to appointments, and helping alleviate any logistical concerns that may stand in her way of receiving treatment. Once rehab treatment has begun, make a concerted effort to be an active part of her therapeutic process. Attend family sessions if they are offered, speak with her treatment provider about ways that you can help, and call her frequently to check in and see how she is doing. Your presence and support can mean the difference between treatment success and treatment failure.
Why Consider Treatment?
When women engage in chronic alcohol abuse while also struggling with the symptoms of an eating disorder, they are setting themselves up for a disastrous future. The damage that can happen to one’s health as a result of these co-occurring conditions can be both far-reaching and long-lasting. Such ailments can include anemia, heart disease, breathing problems, cirrhosis of the liver, inflamed kidneys, gastrointestinal bleeding, and pancreatitis. Additionally, continuing to abuse alcohol and persistently engaging in eating disorder behaviors can prevent women from performing to the expected level occupationally, adhering to daily responsibilities, attending to things at home, and actively making an effort to maintain relationships. The result of these occurrences can include job loss, chronic unemployment, family discord, divorce, loss of child custody, and countless consequences. Fortunately, by making the life-saving decision to receive treatment, women can avoid these detriments and discover a future that is free from such devastation and filled with hope and possibilities.
Eating disorders are progressive and debilitating illnesses that, when left untreated, have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Depending on which eating disorder a person struggles with, she may suffer from malnutrition, obesity, organ damage, diabetes, and developmental problems, as well as other mental health disorders and possible substance abuse. Because of their pernicious and systemic nature, it is not enough to merely treat the physiological symptoms of an eating disorder. Instead, a person must also receive care for the co-occurring psychological issues that may cause her to return to her unhealthy eating behaviors. If treatment is to be truly successful in the long-term, it is important that each person receives a full spectrum of physiological and psychological treatment. At Montecatini:
- Treatment is provided in a warm, family-like atmosphere.
- Programming is supplied by staff who demonstrate true empathy.
- Customized, multi-dimensional rehab plans are created for each client.
- Skill-building opportunities are provided so that clients can learn to integrate healthy behaviors into daily living.
- Personalized, consistent care is afforded to each client.
- Comprehensive family support and therapy are integral parts of treatment at Montecatini.
- Simultaneous treatment for co-occurring disorders is available.
- Renowned medical and psychiatric management round out the therapeutic services we offer.
- Nutrition therapy is factored into each client’s treatment in order to help her reestablish a healthy relationship with food.
- A full continuum of care is offered in order to ensure each client’s long-term recovery.
At Montecatini, we believe that no matter how long you have suffered from an eating disorder, recovery is possible and hope is manifested daily as we work together in support of your long-term healing and inner-peace.
Types of Treatment Offered at Montecatini
Since treating our very first client in 1991, Montecatini has helped inspire and transform the lives of hundreds of women. We are nationally recognized as a leading provider of eating disorder treatment and we are dedicated to helping our clients resume their lives as healthy, joyful individuals who are ready to live to their fullest potential. Women between the ages of 16 and 55 can heal in our residential, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient programs. These programs are designed to help our clients overcome anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge-eating disorder, as well as co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders, including alcohol use disorder.
Montecatini is located just three miles from the Pacific Coastline in picturesque Carlsbad, California. The center itself exudes the comfort and safety akin to being at home, and our staff puts forth every effort to ensure that the atmosphere we create is both peaceful and conducive to recovery. Each client is treated with the utmost respect and dignity, and her care will be personalized to her unique history, challenges, life experiences, and needs.
Our staff of passionate and devoted professionals, many of whom have overcome their own struggles with eating disorders, work in close collaboration with each client who comes to us for treatment. By creating personalized plans for each person who chooses to heal with us, we are able to provide the highest quality of care while honoring the individuality of each client. Depending upon the outcome of an initial assessment, clients may have the following interventions incorporated into their customized treatment plans as they work towards overcoming an eating disorder and co-occurring alcohol abuse problem:
Medical care: For clients who are medically stable, yet still require additional care for their physical health as they navigate the recovery process, Montecatini is pleased to offer renowned medical care. As a distinguished provider of eating disorder treatment, we recognize that the physical health of our clients can be compromised by the presence of an eating disorder. We also partner with specialists in San Diego to ensure our clients’ medical needs are appropriately met.
Medication management: When a client comes to us battling a mental health condition in addition to an eating disorder and co-occurring addiction to alcohol, they may benefit from the inclusion of certain medication(s). Our psychiatrist is available to meet with clients once per week to assess medication needs, prescribe medication, and adjust dosages as needed. Physician’s assistants and nurses are also available to monitor the effectiveness of any medication that is prescribed and to ensure that clients are adhering to their medication regimens.
Individual therapy: Individual therapy occurs three times per week. Each client meets with her assigned primary therapist in a one-on-one setting, which provides an excellent forum to assess progress and to discuss setbacks and successes that have occurred during treatment.
Family therapy: Each client’s family members are invited to participate in family therapy sessions while their loved one is receiving treatment. This treatment method, which is offered once per week unless otherwise indicated, is designed to heal emotional wounds and promote unity among our clients and their primary support networks.
Group therapy: Offered up to five times per day, group therapy is a key component of treatment at Montecatini. Led by therapists, registered dietitians, nurses, patient assistants, yoga instructors, and art therapists, group therapy covers a wide range of topics that can further the recovery process and provides an optimal setting for clients to gain support and encouragement from staff members and other clients. Groups that may be incorporated into a client’s treatment plan as she works towards recovering from an eating disorder and co-occurring alcohol addiction may include the following:
- Body image
- Expressive arts therapy
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- Interpersonal process group
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Relapse prevention
- Equine therapy
- Nutrition counseling and education group
- Spirituality/12-Step group
- Family weekend incentives
- Food and feelings group
- Integrated care group that is focused on substance use
- Exposure therapy
- Action planning
- Therapeutic gardening group
- Outside 12-Step group
- Menu planning and meal preparation
Experiential therapy: In order to help our clients nurture the mind-body connection and apply learned skills in real-world settings, at Montecatini, we are proud to offer a number of experiential therapy opportunities. Experiential therapies complement the other therapeutic interventions we provide and typically take place once per week. Depending on the client’s needs, the following may be part of her personalized treatment plan as she works towards overcoming her eating disorder and co-occurring alcohol abuse problem:
- Restaurant outings
- Grocery shopping
- Clothes shopping
- Group dinners
- Challenge food outings
- Beach trips
Our experienced staff members, many of whom have specialized training in therapeutic techniques and treating a myriad of co-occurring conditions, including an addiction to alcohol, assess clients’ needs on an ongoing basis and can recommend additional interventions if they are determined to be conducive to a client’s recovery.
Because we realize that recovery from an eating disorder and co-occurring alcohol use disorder does not end with the completion of residential treatment, Montecatini purposefully begins preparing our clients for discharge on the day they are admitted to our program. Many of our clients transition to our partial hospitalization program (PHP) after completing our residential treatment, and then step down to our intensive outpatient program (IOP) after completing PHP. Each client’s primary therapist determines and coordinates the most appropriate follow-up and aftercare services, and alumni of our program are welcome to attend our weekly support groups and Alumni Events and Celebrations for as long as they wish. Our goal is to help our clients return to lives that are not only functional, but joyful and deeply supported as well.